Restaurant InsiderPableaux Johnson’s book Gameday Gourmet was written under the auspices of cable TV sports channel ESPN, and features contributions by a few of their on-screen personalities. If that leads you to the conclusion that it’s not all about the food, you’d be making a mistake. Johnson, who’s based in New Orleans, toured the country for his book on tailgate cuisine – or at least those portions of the country that devote weekends and even Mondays to the gridiron. The result is a book that has applications for anyone who enjoys the great outdoors or who has an interest in what folks from other locales cook when entertaining informally.   

Restaurant InsiderSucré, (3025 Magazine St.) is a boutique operation that focuses on sweets with a selection of hand-made chocolates, gelatos and pastries, along with coffee. They are also now serving sandwiches and have a liquor license, which allows them to serve wine. Wine may not be the first drink that comes to your mind when you think of chocolates but it’s a great fit, particularly with some of the more exotic flavorings for chocolate, such as thyme or cardamom.

Restaurant Patois (6078 Laurel St.) has opened in the location formerly occupied by Nardo’s Trattoria. The menu is largely French with Spanish and Portuguese influences, grounded in the southern U.S. Aaron Burgau, whose cuisine focuses on fresh, local produce, is the chef at Patois whom you might remember from his stint behind the stove at the now-closed Bank Cafe. He’s also worked at Bayona, Ralph’s on the Park and Lilette, all of which speak well to his experience.  The former author of this column, Lorin Gaudin, tipped me off some months back to a great market in the middle of Metairie.

International Market (3940 Barron St.) is a warehouse-sized operation, with just about any ingredient you could want where the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent is concerned. Moreover, they have an extensive frozen foods section, with a wide variety of Asian and Latino ingredients and prepared foods. 

Restaurant InsiderI had a wonderful meal at Del Porto Restaurant, pictured below, recently (501 E. Boston St., Covington). I’d heard a great deal about the place but hadn’t had the opportunity to visit until a couple of good friends lured us over the Causeway with the promise of good food and drinks. My wife drove home. I tend to agree with people who say that Del Porto is the best “continental” Italian restaurant in the area, though Da Piero, (401 Williams Blvd., Kenner) should certainly be in the same conversation. Both feature the kind of food you’d find in Italy, as opposed to many of our local restaurants, which have incorporated indigenous techniques, ingredients and flavors into their repertoires. That’s not a criticism; to the contrary, the “Creole Italian” food we have in New Orleans is a unique and vibrant cuisine. But we’ve long suffered from a lack of more “authentically” Italian restaurants and both Del Porto and Da Piero fit the bill.  

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? E–mail Robert Peyton: